Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs
The FPS Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation (Dutch: FOD Buitenlandse Zaken, Buitenlandse Handel en Ontwikkelingssamenwerking, French: SPF Affaires étrangères, Commerce extérieur et Coopération au Développement, German: FÖD Auswärtige Angelegenheiten, Außenhandel und Entwicklungszusammenarbeit), more commonly known as the FPS Foreign Affairs, is a Federal Public Service of Belgium. It was created by Royal Order on March 8, 2002, as part of the plans of the Verhofstadt I Government to modernise the federal administration. The first Ministry of Foreign Affairs was created on February 25, 1831, during the Belgian Revolution.
The FPS Foreign Affairs is responsible for foreign policy and diplomacy and is occupied with the external relations of Belgium, including European cooperation and development cooperation. It maintains approximately 130 embassies, consulates and other diplomatic missions. On November 1, 2003, the FPS Foreign Affairs employed 3,441 people, including its employees abroad.
The FPS Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation is organised into six Directorates-General:
- The Directorate-General for Bilateral Affairs
- The Directorate-General for Consular Affairs
- The Directorate-General for Development Cooperation
- The Directorate-General for European Affairs and Coordination
- The Directorate-General for Legal Affairs
- The Directorate-General for Multilateral Affairs and Mundialisation
The FPS Foreign Affairs has been accused of transferring 800,000 Euros to anti-Israel groups which claim to be involved in human rights activities, according to an article in the Jerusalem Post. Gerald Steinberg, president and founder of NGO Monitor said that the transparency of the process is "necessary for an informed debate on the morality and impact of this funding," and specifically that "Belgian transparency is incomplete, with an absence of information on grants to Palestinian and European political groups." Michel Malherbe, a spokesman for the Belgium Foreign Ministry, replied that "Belgium does not fund NGOs. We fund specific activities and examine the track record of the execution organization on a number of criteria," and added their transparency is "complete" and "goes beyond the Belgian legal requirements. Israel legal requirements provide for transparency for funding from public sources. Transparency should apply to all types of funding, also private funding. We do not know what NGO Monitor means when it speaks about ‘Palestinian and European political groups.’"
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